Category Archives: Black and white

New Mexico winter trip

I love photographing in winter in New Mexico.  The quality of light is warm and inviting and the skies are often colorful.  I especially like making black and white images from some of the places I visit there.  This trip I focused on White Sands National Monument, Pecos NHP, Abo Ruins, and Fort Union.  On the way back, I took the high road to Taos and stopped at the Sanctuary in Chimayo.  I also explored the Taos Pueblo.  

White Sands

White Sands National Monument is always a great spot for photographs. Located about 50 miles east of Las Cruces, NM, White Sands is one of my favorite spots to go in winter.  The temperature was a near perfect 55 degrees and there were few clouds own the sky.  The contrast of the stark white sand with deep blue sky makes for some really cool black and white images.  On this trip down, there were a lot of visitors os I had to walk about a mile to find some dunes without tons of footprints all over them.  I looked for some with animal tracks to make for interesting lead in lines.  I tried to also do a couple of panoramic images.  

Fort Union

Fort Union was one of the largest forts in the West.  It contained a large number of adobe buildings.  Today, the ruins of walls are all that is left (after the fort was abandoned, the locals stripped the fort of glass and tin leaving the walls to crumble).  However, those ruins make for some very interesting subjects.  One has a long row of windows while another has a wagon out front.  I just wish the place would’ve been open near sunset which would’ve made for even more dramatic photographs.  Fort Union is located near Las Vegas, NM about an hour east of Santa Fe.  

Abo Ruins

The ruins of the Salinas Pueblo missions are one of my favorite spots to photograph in New Mexico.  There are three separate ruins but this time I stopped at Abo.  I have been trying to get good photos of this place near sunset and I finally had the opportunity to do so.  The ruins of the church mission glow red near sunset, making for some very interesting compositions.  Again, walls and windows are all that is left so this challenges the photographer to come up with interesting angles to shoot from.  Abo ruins are located about 30 miles east of I-25 off of Highway 60, about an hour south of Albuquerque.  

Pecos NHP

Pesos NHP contains another mission ruin as well as a kiva that you can go down in.  The ruin is not as large as the one at Abo but contains some cool doorways and windows to photograph.  It is about 20 minutes east of Santa Fe, just off of I-25.    


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Southwest Black and Whites

For a while now I’ve been meaning to do a series of black and white photographs of the Southwest.  I’ve made a few trips to the National Parks of Utah recently with this in mind .  This series has photographs from Arches, Capitol Reef and Canyonlands National Parks, and Valley of the Fire State Park.   In particular, I tried to find images that featured trees.  Many of the trees in these parks are old or dead.  Their twisted and gnarled shapes make for some wonderful compositions.  Perhaps my favorite trail was the Navajo Knobs trail in Capitol Reef. This trail has volcanic rock and a plethora of dead junipers that make for perfect black and white compositions. 

Black and White Conversion Process

I like to create contrasty black and white images to highlight these features.  I start with a color digital file.  I use the high contrast red filter in Photoshop to achieve this effect. I start with the presets of the filter and then adjust the individual color levels accordingly.  I often lower the yellow percentage just a little and lower the Cyan and Blue levels even more to darken the sky.  

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